IFT 2007 Wrap-Up: Hot Topics

The big stories and trends from this year’s Institute of Food Technologists Expo…

The Global F&F Market

During a press conference, SAFC representatives cited a report that valued the total global flavor and fragrance market at somewhere between $15.5 billion and $16.3 billion. The main segments of the market break down as follows: Western Europe, 37%; the United States, 31%; Japan, 10%; China, 9%; and remaining regions, 13%. The raw materials market is estimated at $2 billion. Moving forward, SAFC estimates that natural flavors, which boast 8–10% annual growth, will outgrow synthetic flavors and fragrances by 2010. Phenomena shaping the entire market in the future are: downward price pressure, consolidation of vendors, opportunities in emerging markets, and flavor and fragrance houses exiting the aroma chemicals business. When asked what challenges are facing SAFC’s customers, representatives cited global harmonization of regulations and supply chain management.

Fair Trade Vanilla

Virginia Dare’s Rick Brownell discussed fair trade vanilla during a company presentation. According to a recent company survey of US consumers, 53% said they were interested or very concerned about fair trade foods. This number has been growing by leaps and bounds in recent years. The advantage of setting prices on vanilla based on production costs rather than supply/demand is that fair trade allows for stabilization of production via reinvestment by producers and preservation of natural resources. While Europe has a number of fair trade certifiers, the United States has just one—Transfair USA. This small operation primarily deals with coffee, cocoa, tea, bananas and rice, but is growing. After all, products from coffee to ice cream to energy drinks now boast fair trade values. Because vanilla is grown by small, independent farmers engaged in a laborious growing and processing cycle, Brownell says the commodity is perfect for fair trade. To his thinking, the advantages are as follow: consumer demand for socially responsible products is growing, fair trade establishes economic security and prevents exploitation of women and children, the environment is protected, and production of key agricultural products is sustained.

Global Flavor Innovations

One reason that the 2007 IFT Food Expo attracted almost 24,000 attendees was the chance to hear about the latest products and trends in food. Addressing this topic, Mintel held presentations each day of the event covering the most important new food trends drawn from its Global New Products Database. In one of the presentations—Emerging Flavor Trends—new product experts Lynn Dornblaser and David Jago discussed how flavor trends differ from country to country. Here, Dornblaser and Jago focused specifically on key emerging flavors among US new product introductions and traced how they have developed outside of the United States and traditional categories. Mintel examined two up-and-coming savory flavor categories—Indian and Moroccan, and two sweet flavor categories—goji berry and acai berry. While both Indian and acai berry are already well on their way to entering the mainstream, Morroccan and goji berry are relatively new to the US market. Following the presentation, attendees had the opportunity to see, touch and taste new products from around the world illustrating these latest trends. Some of the products tasted included Heinz’s International Moroccan Spicy Lamb, Couscous and Chickpea soup; Bissinger’s Black Sesame Crunch; and Baji’s Papadums Tangy Cilantro snack.

See you next year: IFT 2008, Ernest N. Morial Convention Center, New Orleans, June 29–July 1

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